Since Facebook became ubiquitous, so has a bizarre stream of news stories that seem to be earth shattering at first glance — and even on closer investigation if you’re gullible. You know the type: Macaulay Culkin somehow managing to die of a drug overdose every few months, or how Sarah Palin will be Al Jazeera’s newest anchorwoman.
Some of these stories make it way past Facebook. The Washington Post ran a full story reporting that Sarah would be coming to Al Jazeera viewers after speaking with the network and deciding it was free of liberal bias “because they reach millions of devoutly religious people who don’t watch CBS or CNN.”
That quote, run as the true word of Palin by Washington Post, came from satire site The Daily Currant. As reported by Inquisitr at the time, the website was clearly marked as a fake news story source. But if a reporter capable of making it to one of the most prominent news organizations in the country was fooled by the story, what does that mean for the average person on your Facebook feed?
That’s something that Facebook is now working to fix, reported Wired. The company will soon allow users to report a news story as a hoax. The more people who dispute the information of an article, the less it will come up in Facebook feeds. Wired, however, points out that the tool does leave a margin for ideologically driven error.
“Think The New York Times is a liberal rag spreading dangerous left-wing propaganda? Click. Think Fox News is run by a bunch of shills for the Koch brothers? Click. It’s not like Facebook is asking for corroborating fact-checking before letting you click a button.”
Despite some imperfections, the Facebook feature curbs a problem that several news sources are beginning to call out. An editorial from The New Republic argues that the new generation of satire sites are different than earlier versions. For example, The Onion, says the columnist, is difficult to take seriously even completely out of context. These new fake news stories, on the other hand, are blatant attempts to deceive in order to get page views and Facebook shares, he argues.
“The Daily Currant is… entirely devoid of jokes. Whether this humorlessness is intentional or not—the site’s founder contends his critics don’t have a sense of subtlety—the site’s business model as an ad-driven clickbait-generator relies on it. When Currant stories go viral [on Facebook or other social media], it’s not because their satire contains essential truths, but rather because their satire is taken as truth—and usually that ‘truth’ is engineered to outrage a particular frequency of the political spectrum.”
What do you think about Facebook’s new hoax story reporting feature?
[Image via The Daily Currant]